Tuesday, May 08, 2007


A tempest on a coffee cup

Les, over at Stupid Evil Bastard (oh, man, I am so envious of his domain name), takes note of a Catholic woman in Ohio, who complained about a quote from the Starbucks “The Way I See It” program, and got some press about her complaint.

In “The Way I See It”, Starbucks puts quotations on their coffee cups. The quotations are from all sorts of people, and show all sorts of differing viewpoints. The company says that they want the quotations to “promote discussion” (and that they don't reflect any corporate viewpoint). The quote that irked the Ohio woman was one suggesting that instead of asking for guidance from a God “that may well be a figment of our imaginations”, we should “search inside ourselves”. The Catholic woman, who “loves God”, was offended.

Les has this to say about it:

Welcome to my world Mrs. Michelle Incanno. It’d be really nice if I could make it through the day without having umpteen million Christian messages shoved in my face whether it’s those stupid billboards that pretend to be messages from God or the various True Believers who show up at my door to ask if I know where I’m going once I die or the various businesses that feel the need to promote Christianity with their services. If I ran off and bitched at a journalist every time I was confronted by something like that they’d have to print a special newspaper just for my complaints.

Rather than spend my time sitting around being offended, though, I just developed a thick enough skin that I can brush it off for the most part and I’d suggest you do the same.

Well put, Les; I agree completely!

Indeed, we do seem to have a severe double-standard problem here. It's acceptable, even laudable, to make overt pro-God statements, to post them publicly, to confront people with them. It's not acceptable to be public about the idea that God is a fantasy. Some wonder why there are people who're so upset about “under God” in the pledge of allegiance, about “ten commandments” displays in public buildings, about Christmas displays on public property. On the surface, I agree that those are fights not worth having. Below the surface, though, they're part of that double standard. Those who fight about them feel that we need to hold the line, to avoid having the line disappear entirely.

And, of course, the interesting thing about Ms Incanno's complaint is that the same Starbucks program puts all sorts of quotes on their cups, including some that I would find offensive (such as number 92), if I chose to take offense at those sorts of things. As Les says (and as most of those commenting on the news item say), the woman needs to get a grip.


Ray said...

The most remarkable thing about this is that a newspaper actually considered it worthy of printing! It isn't as though there aren't plenty of truly newsworthy events going on in the world today. One has to wonder at the stunning lack of both world view and tolerance of people such as this.


Oh, and take a look at quote #224.

Sigh again.

Maggie said...

It seems that the people who benefit from the double standard don't see it, which is extremely frustrating.

More atheists or just plain god-doubters need to come out and be more vocal. Christians need to know that there are other people who don't agree with them. ("Don't assume I'm a Christian.")

And as Dawkins says, we don't have the right not to be offended. That woman can be offended all she wants. She can stop buying her coffee at Starbucks. What she can't do is ask that other people not voice their opinions because they're offensive to her.

Maggie said...

Regarding quote #224, James posted today on people using evolution as a substitute for god. Is this supposed to be Darwin's fault? If so, then we can blame Jesus for the Spanish Inquisition, crusades, etc. Evil people will do evil things.

Michelle said...

I've seen this sort of thing a lot recently online in discussion where people were asked their views on god. I and others state plainly that I don't believe in god, some people say stuff like there has to be a god, look at all the trees and mountains, bla bla bla, and some say things like how they can't understand how people don't believe, what's wrong with those people, they're stupid, etc etc.

I replied to one such person in a like manner, and then they wrote again saying I was being childish and intolerant, when I was actually being politer than they were, on top of the fact that THEY STARTED IT!!!

I'd guess that this silly woman would have a similar way of "debating" the subject.

Dr. Momentum said...

I still don't get what she was offended about. "Might very well be a figment" leaves a healthy amount of wiggle room for those who are not accustomed to hearing other people's ideas.

But the problem here is really that some people should not be reading opinions while they're getting their infusion of stimulants. Perhaps that is Starbucks' primary sin.

At the end of the day, the price of the coffee is more offensive than anything they could print on the side of the cup.

Themselves help those who help themselves. To coffee.